C.S.'s note: The chest-training methods that Jared uses in this article are ones that he first laid out in his "Prime and Pump for Massive Muscle Growth" article a couple of posts back. Do yourself a favor and read that one first, if you haven't yet done so, before proceeding to this new bodypart-centric piece. If you read the article below without having read the other one, you may be confused over some of the terminology Jared uses.
Prime and Pump Training for a Silverback Set of Pecs and Animalistic Arms!
by Jared Smith
I’ve heard some say that a pump will limit one's ability to go heavy. This could not be further from the truth. Physics dictates that the more mass something has, the more power it will possess. I’m not saying to obliterate a muscle with insanely high reps before attempting to go heavy, but if you pump the muscles that support the lift, it will add “mass” via sarcoplasmic expansion which will lend itself to more strength.
Everyone and their brother wants more strength and more muscle. No meat-head can call himself such if he has never been asked how much he can bench press. I’m not saying that simply moving more weight will cause hypertrophy—because no one technique or scheme of progressive overload will work forever—I am simply stating that there must be some sort of measureable progress if one is to grow larger muscles. The conventional approach to the average chest workout is to simply warm up on the bench, and put it first in the workout. While this is not a bad idea, there is a more efficient way of training.
We start "priming" our chest by performing barbell curls with a wide grip. This serves a duel purpose: 1. This will get those elbows "ready-to-go" by pumping the biceps, giving you a “cushion” at the bottom half of the bench press. 2. By keeping your elbows in as tight to your sides as possible while curling, you will activate your external rotators, preparing the shoulders for the load to come. While performing the curl, act as if you are trying to touch your elbows together as you ascend. Control the negative and shove in your elbows as you lower the barbell. (I promise you the pump in the biceps— as well as the increased range of motion of your shoulder—will have you chomping at the bit to get under some hefty weights!)
|Matthew Sloan builds detailed biceps by doing a lot of barbell curls|
After four sets of curls for around 10 reps each, you are ready to "get under the bar". Knock out a few “feeler” sets on the bench to lock in your groove. Once you’re ready to go, you will perform five sets of 8-10 reps, resting about 40 seconds between sets. Control the negative, and use inward intent on the bar as if you are trying your damnedest to compress it together in the center. Stop the bar about an inch above your chest and pause for a second before letting it touch, then ascend, continuing with inward intent. By the last set, you should only be able to complete around six reps, but that is fine. The next time you train chest, you should be able to complete ten reps on all sets. Once this happens, you know it is time for you to increase the intensity and add some weight.
|Sergio Oliva built an awesome chest by doing little other than flat bench presses|
Upon completion of the bench press, it is time to keep that “pump power” going. Hammer out three sets of incline dumbbell curls—supinate on the way up and pronate on the way down. At the bottom, contract the triceps—which will insure that the biceps are fully lengthened—then squeeze the hell out of them! Keep your shoulders depressed and retracted throughout the movement, and make your biceps swell with engorged blood!
Stay where you are, because that incline bench is about to be put to use again. Grab a set of dumbbells, and pound out 4 sets of incline presses. Again, keep your shoulders depressed and keep your entire spine in line with the bench. Lock everything down, and press up and inward, but not so far that the ‘bells are directly overhead. Keep them outside the shoulders slightly to maintain tension on your pecs. Remember, the function of the pecs is not only to bring the upper arm across the torso, but to internally rotate the shoulder. On the negative, rotate the dumbbells by turning your palms in to face each other, and turn them out on the way up. This will make sure that the pec is contracted to the max! Take 40 seconds between each set of 8-10 reps.
|One of the greatest "power-builders" of all time, Pat Casey loved heavy incline dumbbell benches!|
Before the pump can dissipate, you will now perform three sets of preacher curls for 8-10 reps. Keep your chin up and get your elbows as close together as possible. Never stop at the top or bottom of the exercise. Try to keep a count of three-up, three-down in your mind, and never pause. The burn and pump will be immense, but keep grinding! Keeping with the same rest period, knock these reps out, and make your peaks scream!
To finish off the workout, you will perform a superset that will test your mettle: classic wide grip dips and close grip, palms-in pulldowns. I know what you may be thinking, “Aren’t close-grip pulldowns a back exercise?” and you’re right. It also happens to be—in my humble opinion—the single greatest biceps builder on the planet! Focus on squeezing them throughout the movement, and feeling them contract all the way up to your shoulder. This means you’re hitting your biceps from two points. Not only are you adding thickness to your lower biceps, but the peak contraction you’ll feel is insane! Control the negative of both movements and never stop thinking about contracting the hell out of the target muscle! Three sets of each to absolute failure. Shoot for 8-10 on all sets, but as long as you are failing somewhere close to that on the last set, that is what counts.
Wide Grip Barbell Curls 4x8-10
Bench Presses with Inward intent 5x8-10
Incline Dumbbell Curls 3x8-10
Incline Dumbbell Presses 4x8-10
Preacher Curls 3x8-10
Wide Grip Dips superset with Close Grip Palms-in Pulldowns 3x8-10
There you have it. The perfect way to pulverize your pecs, and mutilate your meat hooks! The volume is not insanely high, but squeeze each and every rep as if your life depends on it. How do you know your set is done? When the muscle won’t contract anymore! There is nothing complicated about going to failure—you must simply work until that muscle refuses to. Look deep within your own mind, and push past your comfort zone. If you have to use a rest-pause to hit your target rep range on the last set, then do so. If you must perform a drop set to hit the designated number of reps, it’s all good. Intensity is the name of the game. There is no time to screw around and no time to take it easy in the quest for ultimate muscle mass.